Friday, November 30, 2007

Critical Mass Report: November 2007

I made it out to Critical Mass again this month, and damn was it worth it!

Luckily they never roll out exactly at 6 PM, so once again me rolling up to Westlake Center at 6:05 or so wasn't an issue.

There were TONS of cyclists, I'm always surprised how many there are in the cold/dark/winter months. I'm gonna say 3-400, but that's a total guess. I wish someone would count the riders, I'd be interested to know.

This time there was no viaduct-action, we snaked around downtown, then I broke off when Mass headed down that trolly-street (with fucking parallel train tracks on the road - seemed like a really bad idea to me, and I'll bet at least one rider crashed due to the tracks).


  • Somebody threw a BUNCH of water on Mass down in Belltown, apparently from an apartment. But given the festive nature of Mass, it just made everyone cheer that much louder
  • Going up some of the hills downtown, at least one person bit it for some reason, and about half of Mass decided to carry their bikes up the hill
  • Going up a cobbled fucking steep hill coming up from Pike Place Market - somehow I made it up without stopping on the 14x40 miyata fixie!
Again, it was a great ride, but once again, I didn't bring a camera - so you're just gonna have to picture how awesome it was until I can find some pics to post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Getting Ready for Randoneuring in Seattle

My riding buddy reminded me that the Seattle Intl. Randonneurs are having a "meet the team" ride this Saturday, and it looks like we'll be there! We already do unsupported long distance rides, but this is basically taking it to the next level.

What the hell is this randoneer crap, you say? Basically it's all training for an insane ride called the Paris-Brest-Paris, that just happens to be 1,200 km (745 mi) long.. Oh, and did I mention you have to complete those 1,200 km's in 90 hours?!

But before you're even allowed to ride the PBP, you have to complete a series of 'brevets' - up to 600 km I believe.

And interestingly, it's supposed to snow on Saturday - I might be showing up on the miyata fixie complete with zipties on the rear wheel for traction, we'll see.

Anyway, I'm really excited to check out the SiR crowd and see what their rides are like. I just hope they aren't too anal, e.g. saying, "that's not a rando bike," or, "you won't/can't do PBP on that bike." Hopefully they'll be laid back, positive, and open to all types of bikes, including my fixie and my ciocc race bike. (And yes, I've got full fucking fenders on the fixie, thank you very much)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Five Summits Of Seattle, Once Again Hit 50+ MPH

Dennis & I hammered out yet another edition of the "Five Summits of Seattle" yesterday, a knee-killer that goes over five of Seattle's toughest hills & streets:

  1. Queen Anne Ave heading South, up and over Queen Anne Hill
  2. Delridge climb in West Seattle (Othello St)
  3. Beacon Hill (12th Ave)
  4. Aloha Ave heading East UP Capitol Hill (that's got to be an 18% grade or something, for two blocks, followed by cobbles and more climbing once you get past 23rd ave.) to Volunteer Park
  5. Climb from Green Lake up to the Woodland Park Zoo & Phinney Ridge
He came up with the route after we talked about trying to find all the good climbs in Seattle, starting with the list of the highest elevations in Seattle. Some construction on Othello screwed up the route a bit in West Seattle, but we just ended up riding down Othello from the top, then turning around and coming back up, just to get the climbing in. Othello St is probably 10% for 1/2 mile, so there was no way we could skip it and still say we did the route.

Even though it was apparently 34 degrees when we started, it 'warmed up' to 45 degrees or so, with some sun here and there. I can't wait for warm weather!! But at least it was dry.

Ride Stats:

Total Distance: ~44 mi (including coming from/to my apt on Capitol Hill, which actually means I end up climbing Capitol Hill twice!)
Elevation Gain: 3,102 ft (plus the 300 for me to get back on The Hill)
Max Speed: 52 mph (coming down Highland Park Way SW in West Seattle)

On the big downhill in West Seattle I watched my speedometer steadily rise from 50 km/h (~30 mph) at the top of the hill to about 84 km/h (52 mph) towards the middle of it! The 53x11 helped in pushing the speed, and I could keep pedaling the whole way it seemed.

If it wasn't for a pickup that was slowing in front of me, I probably could've pushed it up to 54 mph or so! We'll have to go out there late at night sometime and see just how fast we can go...

Anyway I love that we don't even have to leave the city to hit 50+ MPH! Seattle's got to be one of the best cities to cycle, for the terrain if nothing else.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

65 km Route Around South Lake Washington And Mercer Island

I got a late start today, and since I didn't leave until 1 PM I had to limit the route since it's gets dark at 4:30 these days!!

I did what I call the "double U" route, a 40-miler that's pretty flat, and allowed me to see just how fast I could go without hills getting in the way too much.

Here's the elevation profile of the route, with the clock-wise Mercer Island Loop starting at about mile 22:

With a 10 mph wind out of the North, I was able to average 33.0 km/hr (~20.5 mph) all the way to Seward Park, where the little climb starts at about mile 7.5 or so. I was cruising at a good 36-38 km/hr (~ 24 mph) on the flats, and since my legs aren't sore anymore, I could push about as hard as I wanted without pain.

Mercer Island was really cold on the shady (Eastern) side at about 2:30 PM when I rolled through. I saw more cyclists than I expected, but I guess with the day off it makes sense.


Total Distance: 65 km
Total Rolling Time: 2 hrs 20 minutes
Average Speed: 27.3 km/hr
Max Speed: ~65 km/hr (40 mph)
Max Temp: 45 degrees
Turkey eaten: 0 lbs

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Recovery Ride Around Mercer Island And Part of Lake Washington

Today I did a combination of Mercer Island and the Lake Washington Loop, for a total of about 47 miles or so. My legs were a little sore from the fixed gear commute on Friday, but I chugged along pretty well, holding a 31.9 km/h pace around Mercer Island, although towards the end I was definitely tired.. Overall my pace was more like the usual 24-25 km/hr.

Elevation graph, with Juanita Way as the highpoint at 460 ft:

Going down Juanita Way I hit a good 60 km/h, and the automatic speed sign towards the bottom flashed at a nice 38 mph - in a 35 mph zone no less! It's fun to see my speed-o-meter read a whopping 64 km/h, but I can't wait to hit that 100 km/h at some point!

Friday, November 16, 2007

My Winter Ride - Miyata Fixed Gear

Last night I finally got my rear fender to fit on my fixie, but just barely. With maybe a few millimeters of space, it's a tight squeeze, but it worked for the 25-mile commute today.

After a few seasons of trying to use 'race blades' that cover 1/4 of the wheel, I'm trying out something hopefully dryer. Now that it's so wet outside, I figure I might as well dedicate a bike to the current season: crappy. The full rear fender with the race-blade on the front (complete with diy water-bottle extension) keeps the bike, and me, much cleaner than before.

So here it is, my Miyata 305 fixie:

The 14x40 (~77 gear inches) is kind of tough up some of the steeper hills around here, but big enough to make downhills fun. Going up the paved trail next to 520, my rear wheel was sliding on the wet leaves on the ground, but somehow I kept riding up and up. The rolling hills on the Eastside aren't so bad, and the trail is decent enough to keep you off the busy roads for most of the way.

Here's today's commute profile - just goes to show you really can't go far in Seattle without hitting sizable hills:

So bring on the rain, bring on the winds! I'm prepared, finally.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

NPR Covers a Non-Event, and Ignores Cycling..

Some guy drove across the country in under 32 hours, and NPR covers it with a nice fluffy story so he could pump his book. Let's see, a guy got into his BMW, turned a key, and then pressed the gas pedal for 30+ hours? Big fucking deal!

Why won't NPR cover an actual triumph, such as the Race Across America? (Route map here)

The RAAM is a BICYCLE race that goes from California to New Jersey. ON. A. BICYCLE. The winner of the Men's Solo division, Jure Robic, made it in 8 days and 19.5 hours. The winning 4-person team make it in a little over 5 days!

Did you hear that NPR, somebody did something worth doing, and they've been doing it for decades now! I think a lot of people think of NPR as 'progressive,' including myself, but the more I listen to it, not so much.

What are they gonna cover next, the 'sport' of NASCAR?!

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Should've Cycled To Work

Instead of cycling in I took the bus, the 545 from Capitol Hill to the MS Campus. The way in wasn't too bad, except for when the driver pulled off on the Bellevue Way exit (which is NOT the correct one, it's about 3 miles too early)! I guess the driver thought he was on a different route - and this was apparently foreshadowing of how horrible the bus ride home was going to be.

And indeed the way home was one of the worst experiences of my commuting history in Seattle. I got on the West-bound 545 at about 6 PM, only to:

  • Not have a seat, it was packed as usual
  • Stand for 30 minutes, since traffic was backed up all the way to NE 40th St!

And ironically there's a bike trail right next to 520, so I could see cyclists pass ALL the traffic, since 520 was crawling at a hot 2 mph. All the way to bridge, which is at least 4 miles. Argh!

All I could think about was how nice it when you're on the bike, and the only thing that can hold you up is traffic lights, mechanical issues, or getting tired. But traffic doesn't mean shit when you're on two wheels, and after today's bus commute I might never do that again. I've ridden that damn bus for a few years now, on and off, and it won't be hard to say goodbye to it.

And since I'm on the subject of traffic, I thought this was kinda funny (click the image to see it in full):

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Lost a Mini-Race on the Commute This Morning

My 16-mile commute takes me from Capitol Hill to the Microsoft Campus out in Redmond over the I-90 trail, and through Bellevue. I usually like to ride hard & fast as much as possible, and today was no exception. I felt great starting down 12th ave, at a good 35+ km/h rate.

As I was getting on the I-90 bike trail in Seattle, there was another roadie also getting on the trail, fully decked out in Team Chipotle's argyle race kit, and I sat on his wheel during the descent to the flat bridge deck cruising at about 32 km/h.

It wasn't that I was trying to drop the guy, but I pulled around him and bumped the speed up to 36-40 km/h, but that only lasted about 30 seconds due to a tough head-wind. I always seem to make the mistake of passing someone that I'm drafting off of, and then suffering in the head-wind they were pulling me through! The bridge-deck is about 2 miles long, so it can be tough to hold top speed the whole time, but I was sure trying. My speed slowly dropped, first to 32-34 km/h, then 30-32 km/h. Did I mention the head wind??

I didn't look back to see if he was on my wheel or not, but he apparently was, because as soon as the grade started to kick up to get onto Mercer Island, he passed me and started climbing out of the saddle - it's on!

As we started the 2nd half of the climb, he really hammered, basically sprinting up the hill. I was only about 20 ft behind him, also sprinting about as hard as I could. But just as we were about to the top, I started to feel all bonky - you know, ill feeling, legs get numb, etc. Damn! And this is only 3 miles into my commute!

Not that I expected to drop the guy, like I said he looked pretty serious, but I was hoping to test him a little more than that! As he turned left onto Mercer Island Way he glanced back a few times, only to see me 100 ft away, slowly rolling, head looking down towards the handle-bars, heavily breathing.

Needless to say the other 13 miles were pretty slow indeed. It took me about 10 minutes to recover while slowly riding - it's been a while since I felt like that! Nice little taste of racing I suppose.

Note to self: don't go all-out for too long if you don't want to bonk.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Cyclist SHOT in West Seattle During Commute

From Peter's blog:

"I am nearly home. A mile from home, I hit a pot-hole and puncture my front tire. I replace the tube, but have difficulty getting the tire bead to hold to the rim. On the third try, it holds. I mount my bicycle, ride another two blocks and a car passes to my left. I hear gun-like shots and immediately feel pain in my chest. I ride a short distance and stop. I hunch over my handlebars while I “absorb” the pain. Every inhalation brings a sharp pain to my left lung, as if I had a broken rib. I look at my “clean” yellow jersey. As there are no marks, I suppose that the assailants shot me with an air gun or some sort of blunt projectile."
He was shot w/ a .22 caliber rifle filled with BBs! Ouch. You can read the full story here.

When I was a teen-ager we did stupid stuff like throwing soda on pedestrians, yelling at rednecks to get them to chase us, etc - but nothing like this! We need to find the kids that did this and get them on some bicycles! That would at least give them something to do, as they're obviously bored with life.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is There A Seattle Style of Bike?

I just happened to be Googling 'seattle fixed gear' to see what would pop up, and lo and behold I ran into a blog entry from the Hong Kong Fixed Gear blog: "bikes seattle style"!! I had no idea Seattle was known for a certain type of bike, but come to think of it those bikes look a lot like the 'candy' bikes I see all over the Hill and Downtown..

It's a pretty cool blog though, and included a picutre of a double-sided fixed gear. I guess you learn something new every day indeed.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

600 km on the Ciocc!

I got my new dream-bike (a steel Ciocc) on October 1st, which is just about one month ago. Let's see how many kilometers I've put on this baby!

At the very end of my 80 km ride today, my cyclo-computer read a whopping 600 km (372 mi)!! Not bad for one month's worth of riding. Check my cycling log for the details.

Most of the rides were on the weekends, as my new job working for the man combined with the cold/dark weather hasn't given me the time or the motivation to go out and ride. But if I start commuting to work then it would be a 32-mile round trip!

Hopefully these miles will build a good 'base' for the 2008 STP/HPC/etc, and I'm thinking about giving the local race scene a shot. We'll see.

Hilly Lake Washington Loop - 80 km of great Seattle riding

Today I hammered out one of my favorite rides today, my version of the Hilly Lake Washington Loop - most local riders take the Burke-Gilman back to Seattle, but I like to break off at 180th/Perkins and follow that out to the rolling hills of 5th Ave E., just parallel to I-5. Here's an elevation profile of the route:

There was a tough head-wind out of the south, but I was holding 32+ km/h, which is how I like to roll. I can get a lot lower/more aero on the Ciocc as opposed to my Bianchi - that helps a lot on days like today. I can also go a hell of a lot faster on this new bike, partially because the 53,39 x 11-23 gearing I'm running is made to go fast and nothing but!

It was kind of chilly out, but it never rained so that was a pleasant surprise. Bring on the cold weather cycling!!

Total Distance: 81 km (50 mi)
Total Rolling Time: 3 hrs, 2 minutes
Average Speed: 26.1 km/h